Tuesday, November 5, 2019

November Update: Taking Stock

I wrote a total of zero words last month.

Even with meaning to write a story for the Cafe, I never wrote a word.

Well, that's not true. I wrote words. Blog posts. Journals. Emails. Plans. But no stories. I did a tiny bit of brainstorming for NaNo, but the blurb I wrote for the website was probably only a couple hundred words long, so I didn't count it.

Part of me was trying to save my creative energies for NaNo. Part of me decided I didn't want to write out of obligation. Yes, I wanted to tell the story, have one last tale from that serial on the Cafe...but it didn't happen.

That's not to say it won't. I will probably try to write it at some point this month, become a bit of a NaNo rebel, and maybe even write a Cafe story for the "goodbyes" prompt.

But maybe not.

I've got a small start on my NaNo novel so far, but I'm days behind par and I'm not really feeling much about the story I'm telling. Again, I find that I'm writing more out of obligation than any joy. It feels like a chore because it's November. It's a thing I need to mark off the to-do list, like laundry or paying bills or doing dishes.

So. It looks like my passion for writing really is winding down. NaNo hasn't really fixed anything, just re-emphasized that something is well and truly broken. And by broken, maybe I just mean played out.

I'm getting close to the end of the time I set aside to achieve the goal I set back when I turned 30. The reason I started this blog. To be a published author by the time I'm 40.

Next year is the last year for that. And...it's not enough time. I don't have a book ready to query, and even if I spent a few months finishing or cleaning up, beta readers wouldn't get it back to me in time to query and get any solid yes or no from an agent or publisher. And I'd need more years to actually sell that book to a publisher from there.

Even adjusting my goal to getting a book accepted by someone is probably impossible. Which isn't to say I should stop trying. It's not like I turn into a pumpkin the second I turn 40.

But. I have spent most of the last ten years working toward this goal. And I have had some success. I have had over half a dozen short stories published. I've won writing contests. I've queried two complete novels. I even finished writing an entire urban fantasy series.

Cobbled together, I guess you could say I achieved my goal, more or less. I am a published author and I did everything within my power to get a book out there.

And I'm tired. Or not even that, really. I have lots of energy when it comes to other pursuits. But with writing, I'm tired before I even begin. I need my passions to give me energy, not take it away.

So, I think, even though I could continue to strive for this goal beyond my thirties and into my forties...I don't think I'm going to. Next year, my last year in my thirties, I think I'm going to wrap stuff up. Decide what the last things I want to accomplish as a writer are, then close the book on this part of my life.

I guess this really should be more of a December post, rather than November. But I think I'm going to spend the next month or two figuring out a plan. I might actually move from writing new content to getting MystWatch out there. I could feasibly spend all next year cleaning it up, hiring cover artists and editors, then put it out after my 40th birthday. I kinda like that, honestly. Would be a really nice way to honor the last decade of work. My capstone project, as it were.

The only real problem with that plan is finances. I haven't saved up any money to actually self-publish. So we'll see. I'd have to borrow from my other savings goals to do it, and hope that eventually I could pay it back. I might not be ready to do that next year. The self-publishing of MystWatch is more of a vanity project than any expectation that it's going to make any money. More just to say I did it. Getting settled in a new house might take some precedence over that. We'll see.

Anyway. Yeah. Still not writing. Still not excited about writing. Although I did finally get my first beta read back on MystWatch. Mostly positive, so that's cool. It needs a bit of work, but nothing I can't handle. And there's a fairly natural place to break it into two books (just about dead center, even which wasn't intentional, but hey!). That's something I've thought about doing with the second two books, and then drastically paring down the first book to make it a five-book series in all.

I'll update again in December. See if anything has changed. Maybe by the end of NaNo, I'll be back in the groove of writing. Then all this talk of taking a break will have been for nothing.

Or it might just be the last nail on the coffin of this whole writing thing.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

October Update: Flash fictions and prepping for NaNo

I did participate in the 24-hour short story contest last month. I wrote a story I actually quite like. I also put together a flash fiction for the Cafe for a prompt that didn't get any stories. I even threw a few words at a Cafe story for October. All said and done, I wrote less than 5k words, but hey, I wrote two stories last month.

This month, I need to finish my October Cafe story. It goes live on Monday, so it's hitting crunch time. I've been reluctant to write too much of it, since I didn't have the ending. I do, now, but I haven't written it out, yet.

I'm also gearing up for NaNo next month. I made a cover for the NaNo site. I wrote a little blurb for it. I think it'll be fun. I haven't done a ton of world building yet, but I like the main character so far. She reminds me a bit of Diana, and also a bit of Kit from Dante novels. She's a badass, but not entirely competent. She's disillusioned but hasn't given up yet. She's got terrible luck and thinks she doesn't have much else to lose, until she loses it. I haven't decided much in the way of sidekicks or other side characters yet. They tend to crop up when I least expect them to, anyway, so it's better not to plan...except for the AI she'll meet in the Dream Machine...because lately I've realized how much I love sentient and sassy computers. Marvin the depressed robot, Murderbot (and the asshole computer), the AI in Ted's novel, the computer in Skyward, even AIVAS in the Pern books. So, yeah. I'll have my own ghost in the machine in this book. I still probably need to give her something to fight for. Maybe it's a dog, I don't know. People love dogs. Loyalty to her pup will make her a lot more redeemable if I make her otherwise cranky and horrible.

So, yeah. I haven't written a ton, but the things I have written haven't been too painful. The flash fiction, and even the 24-hour short story contest were surprisingly easy, once I knew the shape of the stories and what beats I wanted to hit. It's good to know that even as stagnant as I've been as far as writing, as out of practice, it's not at all like being out of shape and having to exercise. Or maybe it is. There were days after a long rest from running that I could easily run two miles without stopping. Doing it consistently, on the other hand...well, that's where NaNo comes in. It'll give me a chance to consistently work toward telling a story in more than just one sitting.

I'm not all that excited about the regional stuff, especially since they've gutted and revamped the NaNo website without taking into account what most of us have been using it for. But I'm also worried that talking to people about writing might snuff out this delicate flame I'm trying to kindle.

But having Amanda and Dianne to talk to about the 24-hour short story contest was nice. So maybe it'll be good. I'm just trying to take care where I step and keep my mind on what I'm doing, not where I'm going. Enjoy the simple act of spinning a story. Creating a world, getting to know characters, jumping into the deep end of NaNo without a plan.

And not just a plan for the novel. No plans beyond just telling this story. No thinking about publication or beta readers or sequels. Because it's been five months, and I'm still not really writing. There's still something broken. Something I did ended up breaking something, and I don't want to go back there or end up there again. So, yeah. I'm doing NaNo. Yeah, I'm writing short stories. But I'm still not really considering myself fixed or made-up with writing. I'm like, dating other people. I can't go back to that relationship yet. Maybe we're meant to be, once we work out our differences and grow as people. But I can't go back to it after what happened until lots of things change.

Baby steps. Maybe I'll get there. Maybe I won't. Maybe I really will retire completely as a writer. Maybe I'll go back to only writing during NaNo. Maybe this will be my last NaNo. Only time will tell, and I still have no plans to force anything. I believe the magic will be back. But magic isn't something you can force. If it's right, and you believe in it, then it will happen.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

September Update: Time to Backtrack

Unfortunately, this isn't going to be much of an update. I still haven't written anything.

I take that back. I wrote about a thousand words summarizing a dream I had that would make a good YA fantasy novel. But that's all I've written in six weeks.

I'm still really struggling. With exhaustion. With burnout. With what's going on with me. There have been times in the last six weeks that I felt sort of like writing, but never did. Or made plans to write, but didn't.

I haven't even managed to maintain an interest in any other artistic pursuits. I did photography for a hot minute, but nothing else since. Short of organizing things, decorating, and buying new clothes, I guess. If you can consider that creative.

It all comes down to...I don't know what to write right now. I've had to adjust my expectations as far as being a writer. Suddenly, I'm not sure what I'm doing about publication. My two finished novels, nobody wanted. So, do I try to finish the other two novels? They're so much like the things already rejected! Okay, do I focus on a book of a different genre? Do I have the energy to do that? If I do, what comes next? I don't have something else in that same tone, and I don't have any ideas for more stories in that tone, so my writing career is pretty much over before it begins in traditional publishing route.

So, what if I self-publish? Then I can write whatever I want, publish whatever I want.Whenever I want. Surely these books that were rejected by agents and publishers would appeal to a larger audience.

But what if they don't? Plus, I don't want to write anymore Druid Wars. At least, not right now. I could cut my losses on past projects and just work on finishing new projects rather than trying to clean up and finish old ones, despite the obvious time setback that puts me at. But I really wanted to have three or more years worth of releases ready to start publishing before I got to that point. I've been writing too slowly to manage that. And where will I find the time and energy to do all of that on my own, not to mention the money?

I don't have answers to those questions. It's not helping me decide what to work on.

So, maybe I should just not write for publication. What would I write, then?

I don't know.

Or maybe I do. Maybe I should listen to that quiet, whispered voice that says "nothing." Maybe if I stop writing for publication, I just won't write.

But then Rachel and I thought about co-writing this Hallmark-style romance. And I've been longing to return to the MystWatch world. And I've been excited, off and on, to start writing this new book for NaNo this year.

I'm adrift in a sea of indecision. I still think I kinda sorta want to write, but I really don't want to write right now. I'm thinking about trying the fall 24-hour short story contest this weekend. It might be a good place to start. Or I suppose it could be a horrible place to start. NaNo might be a better place to start. I honestly don't know.

At any rate. That's where I'm at. Still trying to move past my writers block, which I think is mostly caused by rejection. I think the feeling of having to go back to the drawing board YET AGAIN has taken more wind out of my sails than I ever would have expected. I wasn't able to be as resilient this time. That tells me that I might have one last round of queries left in me. And it won't be for a long time. So my biggest goal going forward, I think, is to write some books. For me. For my siblings, if they want to read them. But I don't want to write them for beta readers or agents or publishers or fans. I just want to write something for me. That's why I loved Monsters of Lawrence so much. Why it was so fun to write. Why I love it still. I want to try to find a way back to that feeling. That place. Because after writing the opening to this entry, I think that's the only thing left right now. The only way to salvage all this. I can't think about writing right now without thinking of a way to get it published. So as tired as the idea of going back to the beginning again makes me, it is necessary. That may be the only way to fix this, whatever this jagged, broken thing is inside me. I've taken a wrong turn somewhere, and now I have to backtrack until I find a trail that doesn't lead back into this darkness.

I think maybe the best place to start is to go back and read over some of my stories. The ones I love going back to. Maybe I can drum up some honest enthusiasm. Make me come up with some ideas for things I really, truly want to write about.

And be open to the possibility that maybe the stories I want to tell aren't the same, anymore. Whether that's from the constant rejection, getting older and finally "growing up", or this gradual change in faith, I'm not sure I can or even want to write about the same things I once did. Perhaps that's at the heart of my inability to write. I don't know what to write about, because what once resonated with me no longer does.

I truly hope that's it, and not that I just can't write anymore. Writing has been such a huge part of my life for the last five, ten, fifteen years. Twenty, if you count getting my degree in creative writing. A twenty-year investment in something. I'm not ready to give up on it after a few months of writers block. I went away from it for a year or two when I was doing more editing, but I came back. I have to believe I will this time, as well.

But I think it's still going to take some time. And it's probably going to be hard. Like getting back to exercise after time away from it.

For now, I'm going to enjoy being lazy for awhile longer. Listening to myself, I can tell there's still too much pain to try to push it without drying up any fragile buds that might be poking out.